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Growing demand for Latin American cocoa

Thursday, November 6, 2014

It’s not a benefit anyone would want, but bad news for Africa could be good for Latin America, as the Ebola virus causes buyers to look at sourcing cocoa from the Dominican Republic, Mexico and Colombia, among other countries.

In addition, cocoa prices have risen 8 percent this year to $3,000 per tonne, in part due to speculation that the outbreak in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea could spread to Ivory Coast and Ghana, which together account for 59 percent of the world's total production.

Brazil, Ecuador, Peru and Venezuela also export significant amounts of cocoa.

Colombian cocoa has already experienced a rise in demand, particularly in Europe, which seeks high-quality cocoa, with international certifications, particularly from producers rated as socially and environmentally responsible, according to the country's export promotion agency, Proexport.

Colombia, which has identified potential markets Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Switzerland and the UK, is considered a provider of fine cocoa by the International Cocoa Organization.

Mexico for its part accounts for only 2 percent of the world's total cocoa production, but has the has the climate and soil conditions to be a top producer.

Each Central American country produces cocoa in small quantities, but with potential for growth.

In Nicaragua, cocoa is set to equal coffee exports, while in Honduras, the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation is helping to launch a project aimed at helping cocoa-related jobs grow by 20 percent.

An advantage of cocoa production is that the plants are immune to diseases such as the rust fungus, which last year affected nearly half of the coffee crop in the three northern countries of Central America.